San Francisco

Ben Langton

Bolles Gallery

The painting “Sun, a Tree, Woman” charts an astrology of private fantasy, with the sun as the center of goodness and grace, the angelic woman symbolizing love and innocence, and the octopus as fear, uncertainty and suspicion; the tree is Langton himself. From this construction the painter branches out into pictorial revelations of each symbol. “Angelic Form” pictures a very womanly angel who is also the contours of the hills and mountains, and whose spread legs form a lovely pastel lake. The octopus in another painting has a telephone dial at its center with the angelic nude eyeing it apprehensively. “Stinson Beach in the Sun” centers a great radiating sun shining down on a cartoon of an idyllic landscape.

Ben Langton has been taking the cartoon seriously since the beginning of his career a dozen years ago, anticipating Pop Art, and at the same time never bending to the conventions of that phenomenon; his style is his own—indeed it is so direct as to be almost not a style; it is both primitive in method (with the explicitness, of graffiti) and yet sophisticated enough to be a satire on fancy people’s ideas about tastefulness.

Knute Stiles